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If you love them, let them know

If you love them, let them know

It's Pastor Appreciation Month. How can you show how much they mean? 

Rev. Melissa Pisco at Blessing of the Animals

Rev. Melissa Pisco, pastor of Celebration UMC, Gainesville, prepares to pray for a cherished pet at a recent Blessing of the Animals, one of many special events that mean a lot to United Methodist worshipers. Photo from Celebration UMC Facebook page.

They don’t just stand in front of the congregation on Sundays, sharing God’s word and looking for ways to help 21st century Christians make sense of it.

Although that would be enough for a “thank you.”

Pastors and deacons throughout the Florida Conference are there for the big moments – and often the smaller ones – in worshipers’ lives. Pastors conduct weddings and funerals and baptize new disciples of Christ. They turn out for family night, Bible study, fundraisers, committee meetings, staff meetings, youth outings, mission work and more. They check on church members in the hospital and sit with families grieving the loss of a loved one. 

Some have even been spotted mowing the church property.

October is Pastor Appreciation Month. The Florida Conference Connectional Relations staff asked clergy what would make them feel most appreciated.

These are people who hear a calling to make a difference in the world. It’s not surprising that the gift listed most often is confirmation that they are answering that call.

From humorous to heartfelt, here’s what they said:


“As a new clergy member, I would most appreciate the opportunity to sit down with people (over a meal, of course) and get to know them and hear their stories.  I don't often get the chance to see many congregants outside of Sunday service, so this would be a wonderful blessing.”


“I would love to hear how I have made a difference in their lives and how that has made them better disciples.”


“For me, the greatest thing to warm my heart is to invite people to church. If we love what our pastors are doing and we love our church, then share that love with others. There is no greater gift than to share the love.”


“What was and is most pleasing to me as a pastor-preacher is to be told that something you said, did or are made a significant difference to the speaker, member of their family or someone they know."

  • Gene Zimmerman, retired elder, Orlando


“My dream is to have a credit balance at Cokesbury or Amazon.”


“My suggestion would be fresh flowers for the church on maybe the third Sunday and a gift card to a local restaurant. After the service, the flowers can be taken to shut-ins.”


“I appreciate someone taking the time to write something personal like a note or a card and share what I specifically did or said and how I made a difference.  Any heartfelt expression is appreciated which shares someone's talent like homemade goodies, or a handcrafted item.  Of course, anything to help me restore my body and soul like a massage or candle or gift certificate helps me feel pampered.  And the generous folks in my church sometimes offer a weekend away at their beach house or river house and those are super special, too.

“I love ministry and I love people, so just hearing I'm making a difference is both humbling and energizing and keeps me going.”


Rev. Ben Stilwell-Hernandez baptizing a boy

Rev. Ben Stilwell-Hernandez baptizes a new disciple of Christ. Photo from Pine Ridge Fellowship Facebook page.

“Time away for recharging and renewal is critical. We get vacation time, but often plans don't translate into reality.  A few years ago, our church arranged and paid for a three-night cruise.  That was a great gift that made us feel appreciated!”


“As a new pastor, what would warm my heart is a collection of stories, quotes and photos from the two churches I serve.

“I love God and God’s people, and I want to always have memories of my first pastoral appointments at New Hope UMC and Trinity UMC in Lake City.”


“I think that it would be great if congregations also were aware of how much time pastors spend away from their families for night meetings, weddings, funerals, etc., and if a gesture was made to them, or perhaps made to the pastor’s whole family, so they could do something together.”


“The first time I learned about Pastor Appreciation Month was in my first appointment. The church I was serving pulled together a lovely gift to thank me for joining them in ministry earlier that year. But the gift is not what stands out most in my mind.

“What made that first pastor appreciation month so special was that many of the members of the church wrote thank you cards to both my wife and me. The cards were more than generic ‘thank yous.’ Many members of the church took time to mention specific things that had occurred for which they were thankful. ‘Thank you for visiting me in the hospital when ...’ Or, ‘Thank you for the sermon you gave on ...’ What warms my heart the most is when someone takes the time to offer specific thanks. I still have those thank you cards.”

-- Susan Green is the Florida Conference managing editor.